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Importance of clean notch

hosocat

hosocat

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I'm definitely not an experienced tree feller. I've only cut down 25 or 30 trees, and most of them have been less than 12 inches in crowded conditions, so i end up having my trees fall part down, and then have to drag them down the rest of the way. So i dont see a lot of dramatic, clean falls to determine how well i cut. But everything I read or watch emphasizes the importance of a clean notch and precise back cut. Some cutters seem to obsess about it, and spend an extreme amount of time getting their notch perfect. But in olden times people used axes. It wasn't possible to get a clean, smooth notch or be super accurate in placing their back cut.. But they seem to have been able to successfully fell trees. Just curious. How vital is it to have a perfect notch and backcut?
 
northmanlogging

northmanlogging

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face cuts means everything. direction of fall, speed of fall, what the stem does as it leaves the stump

a good face cut can reduce the risk of a barber chair.

the old timers knew all of this, and you can arguably be more precise with an axe then you can with a power saw, just a lot more work and skill involved.

as far as the back cut goes, accuracy isn't nearly as important as many claim it to be, ideally you want to be level or just a touch higher then the face cut, but a little low won't hurt, and a little high isn't the end of the world, it makes for an ugly butt log, and an uglier stump. That said, there are drawbacks to high and low back cuts, to low can make it barber chair easier. as well as more work to wedge it over, too high and you miss the face entirely, or over cut into your slope wood (for a standard "frowny" face cut). The benefit of an intentionally low back cut, is if your using equipment to push it over, it helps prevent shoving the butt off the stump, though if your careful and leave enough hold wood, this shouldn't be an issue.

the lesson if you've made it this far...

For most trees and most timber, a clean, well aimed face cut, where in the cuts from the aiming cut and slope cut match with out over or under lapping, as well as cleaning out all of the loose bits of wood, will make timber fall to the desired direction, much much more likely, (there are still other factors, such as natural lean, wind, limb weight etc) also when in doubt, make the face steep and deep... worry about breakage and fiber pull later

Biggest consideration for the back cut, is to get it close to level with the aiming cut, and leave hinge wood, 90% of the time keep the hold wood parallel with the aiming cut of the face, more wood on one side will pull the tree towards the fat side of the hold wood, more then you think, but not something to ever rely on
 
Woody912

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I'm definitely not an experienced tree feller. I've only cut down 25 or 30 trees, and most of them have been less than 12 inches in crowded conditions, so i end up having my trees fall part down, and then have to drag them down the rest of the way. So i dont see a lot of dramatic, clean falls to determine how well i cut. But everything I read or watch emphasizes the importance of a clean notch and precise back cut. Some cutters seem to obsess about it, and spend an extreme amount of time getting their notch perfect. But in olden times people used axes. It wasn't possible to get a clean, smooth notch or be super accurate in placing their back cut.. But they seem to have been able to successfully fell trees. Just curious. How vital is it to have a perfect notch and backcut?[/QUOT

sounds to me like your slice of pie is too small, closing up before you get hear horizontal. Be a hog and cut ya about 3 slices on that face cut!
 
TheDarkLordChinChin

TheDarkLordChinChin

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If your notch isnt cleaned out properly it can make the tree roll as its falling. Which can be used to your advantage when intended. But when its not intended it can be a serious hazard.
 
Brushwacker

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Back cutting lower then the notch is a no-no in my book. Easily pinches the bar and its stuck until the pressure is relieved. If the tree falls with your saw pinched you might need a new chainsaw if the but of the tree falls on it. Been there, done that. I think most chainsaw owners manuals tell you the same.
 
northmanlogging

northmanlogging

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Back cutting lower then the notch is a no-no in my book. Easily pinches the bar and its stuck until the pressure is relieved. If the tree falls with your saw pinched you might need a new chainsaw if the but of the tree falls on it. Been there, done that. I think most chainsaw owners manuals tell you the same.
well, I do it all the time so?

if the tree sits back whether your cut is low or high, it means you need to put a wedge in there to keep the cut open.

also the saw manual tells you to do all sorts of silly stuff, because its the "safest" thing to do, such as putting your foot through the handle when starting, and always wearing eye, ear, face, head, leg, hand neck protection, two condoms and mother on speed dial.

but its not always the right thing to do though is it
 
catbuster

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Humboldt face: Low back cut is just fine. Not always ideal, but it’s probably safe. Good chance that face closes and pushes the tree away from the stump and the sawyer.

Farmer face: Hell no. Just a better way for the tree to come back at you as the hinge breaks.

To answer the OP: It’s easy to clean out your face. Just do it. Leaving some stuff or taking some off a corner can be used to make the tree do some stuff as the hinge breaks or immediately before it breaks, but unless you really understand what it does, just put the face in the direction the tree needs to go. That’s not to say they need to match perfectly, but it needs to be clean where they meet. Afterwards put the back cut a smidge higher than the gunning cut of the face, regardless of type, and wedge it over if it’s not naturally going where you want it. If you can’t wedge it or it has a hard lean against where you want it, walk away and hire someone who can do it.
 
Brushwacker

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well, I do it all the time so?

if the tree sits back whether your cut is low or high, it means you need to put a wedge in there to keep the cut open.

also the saw manual tells you to do all sorts of silly stuff, because its the "safest" thing to do, such as putting your foot through the handle when starting, and always wearing eye, ear, face, head, leg, hand neck protection, two condoms and mother on speed dial.

but its not always the right thing to do though is it
My perception is you cut mostly smaller trees compared to here. If a 25 inch oak pinches your bar, it can get extremely difficult to drive a wedge in safely or you might not have a chance to if the tree snaps off and falls, which in that case often goes in an unexpected direction and could end up on the feller or and saw.
A low back cut will pinch the blade when the tree falls the intended direction, that is the reasoning to keep the back cut above the notch.
I know this from experiance, not just the books.
 
Haironyourchest

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Humboldt face: Low back cut is just fine. Not always ideal, but it’s probably safe. Good chance that face closes and pushes the tree away from the stump and the sawyer.

Farmer face: Hell no. Just a better way for the tree to come back at you as the hinge breaks.

To answer the OP: It’s easy to clean out your face. Just do it. Leaving some stuff or taking some off a corner can be used to make the tree do some stuff as the hinge breaks or immediately before it breaks, but unless you really understand what it does, just put the face in the direction the tree needs to go. That’s not to say they need to match perfectly, but it needs to be clean where they meet. Afterwards put the back cut a smidge higher than the gunning cut of the face, regardless of type, and wedge it over if it’s not naturally going where you want it. If you can’t wedge it or it has a hard lean against where you want it, walk away and hire someone who can do it.
Concur with the above. I don't really get the whole "fatter-hinge-wood-on-one-side-steering-thing".

If you have the space to put your face cut where you want it, what is the benefit of attempting to steer with the back cut? The only times I have ever felt the need to use this method is if I regretted the placement of the face, but didn't feel comfortable cutting it deeper.

To my mind, it's a potentially dangerous thing to rely on, since it detracts from achieving a perfect thickness of hinge. The hinge should be just thick enough until the tree starts to move, or can be moved with wedge, lever bar or pull line. No point in going thinner. Dunno, maybe I just don't have the knack for it.
 
rwoods

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My perception is you cut mostly smaller trees compared to here. If a 25 inch oak pinches your bar, it can get extremely difficult to drive a wedge in safely or you might not have a chance to if the tree snaps off and falls, which in that case often goes in an unexpected direction and could end up on the feller or and saw.
A low back cut will pinch the blade when the tree falls the intended direction, that is the reasoning to keep the back cut above the notch.
I know this from experiance, not just the books.
Northman can speak for himself but I believe most of what he cuts would make our 25" oaks look puny. Ron
 
2dogs

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I would hate to think that people come here for advice, with good intentions, and believe everything they read here. So without explanation:

Yes a hinge can and should be cut thicker on one side than the other at times.
Yes your face cuts should always match. Don't let bad habits become the norm.
Yes the backcut can be put in lower than the gunning cut, especially when a big yellow wedge is helping out.
Yes the hinge wood at times should be cut narrow rather than driving a wedge to prevent fiber pull.
Yes there are times when a conventional face is better than a Humboldt and vice versa.
Yes there are times when the backcut is done before the face.
Yes there are times when wedging a tree can be very dangerous.
Yes there are times when domino falling is the safest procedure.
Yes there are times when two condoms are warranted.
If you don't know what you are talking about keep quiet.


Know your local conditions, ie do the winds blow at a certain time every day? Remember it is the winds that affect the tree that are important and not the winds at ground level. Always take time to inspect the tree trunk and the ground for fruiting bodies. Is the bark coming off? Widow makers? Escape routes. Species. Sound the tree with an axe if suspicious but hit once and immediately look up. Carry an ifak and a whistle. Tree form. Watch out for snags and fire weakened trees, they soundlessly kill.
 
northmanlogging

northmanlogging

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My perception is you cut mostly smaller trees compared to here. If a 25 inch oak pinches your bar, it can get extremely difficult to drive a wedge in safely or you might not have a chance to if the tree snaps off and falls, which in that case often goes in an unexpected direction and could end up on the feller or and saw.
A low back cut will pinch the blade when the tree falls the intended direction, that is the reasoning to keep the back cut above the notch.
I know this from experiance, not just the books.
Ha Ha Ha... I got plenty more where this came from

 
Brushwacker

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Ha Ha Ha... I got plenty more where this came from

I am not trying to belittle you or exalt my self. Just sharing a fact that could save someone some hardship down the road.
If it matters to anybody they can experiment with a small light, straight tree. Notch it, then back cut it until under the notch, leave enough fiber it doesn't break off to easy for the experiment, with the bar at the bottom of the back cut push the tree in the falling direction where it leans but doesn't break off and the bar will most often be pinched. If your back cut is even or above the notch and the tree falls toward the notch, normally it is unlikely it could pinch. Try it both ways if inclined.
 
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